From Rolling Beedis to Weaving Eco-Friendly Products using Banana Fibre

United Way of Chennai, a non-profit organization focuses on working towards addressing the issues pertaining to livelihood, environment, education, health, and much more. To enhance the livelihood of women in Tirunelveli, we partnered with 360ONE and provided basket weaving training using banana fibre thereby enabling them to set up a self-sufficient enterprise through their CSR initiative. 

The rural communities in Tirunelveli district work in the unorganized sector and engage in the activities of beedi rolling and selling fish, banana, palm products etcetera. Due to lack of education and livelihood opportunities, they resort to beedi rolling to earn enough to keep their household afloat and to educate their children. Beedi rolling is hazardous to health and causes major health damages. This was extremely unsafe not just to the women, but also their families. 

We joined hands with 360ONE with the objective to provide a safer and more distinguished livelihood to 150 women engaged in the hazardous activity of beedi rolling by equipping them with the skills in weaving baskets, lampshades and other products using banana fibre. The training workshops enhanced their skills enabling them to access safer employment opportunities. Thirumathi Vaazhai Naar enterprise was set up to enable women to have regular employment opportunities making them self-reliant. This is a model of a women-led, self-sustainable enterprise.

This initiative has impacted women greatly as they contribute to the income of the family enabling financial stability. After joining the enterprise, the women have earned respect amongst their family members and within the community. The voices of these women are heard in the decision-making aspects within their family and community. United Way of Chennai is committed to providing such learning and employment generation opportunities with a special focus on women from underserved communities. 

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